The drawings in this series are six meditations on the creeping gentrification that is increasingly changing the cultural landscape of South Auckland.
I made these works for a pop-up / pocket exhibition project taking place currently in Old Papatoetoe,South Auckland. Organised by The Pantograph Punch and commissioned by Auckland Council, the exhibition takes the form of large format posters in vacant shop windows in the soon to be ‘renewed’ Old Papatoetoe mall.
In her 2014 TEDxNewYork talk, Dr Stacey Sutton discusses gentrification as a manifestation of inequality. She challenges common misconceptions about gentrification and unpacks the politics of displacement. Although speaking to American contexts, so many of these issues are applicable to the South Auckland situation.
The site of the exhibition is the shop windows of empty shops in the Old Papatoetoe mall. So many of the vacant shops had hand-written signs in the window, some directing customers to a new address, others just simply declaring the end of their company’s presence in Papatoetoe. I was interested in the time, effort and emotion it took to write such an important message, and the tensions of change and takeovers.
After various recent experiences of the Auckland Council Arts and Culture team, I’ve reflected on the values that could or should underpin arts service delivery and effectiveness from my position as a local artist. The bureaucracy protects and connects, flexing a vision of strength.
Old Papatoetoe mall is getting ‘renewed’, Ōtāhuhu is getting a brand new transport depot, Manukau Train Station now brings people to the heart of Southside. Train stations bring all the bucks to the yard, too bad if you don’t live near one.
Check out Postcards from Papatoetoe, a ‘pop-up & pocket exhibition’ organised by The Pantograph Punch in the Old Papatoetoe Mall, St George Street, South Auckland. The exhibition features work by Elisabeth Alani, Quishile Charan and Pooja Subramanian, Liyen Chong, Vinesh Kumaran, Kerry Ann Lee, Lana Lopesi, and Ema Tavola.
Photo credit: Francis McWhannell, The Pantograph Punch